Family · June 17, 2020

Deciding Whether to Open a Joint Bank Account With Your Partner

Budgeting is tricky enough on your own, but add another person to the equation and even more confusion may arise. All partnerships are likely to weather at least some level of frustration over money. Consider the question of whether to join accounts an opportunity to spend some time talking to your partner about your finances and your goals.


Choosing the right path for you and your partner

There's no one-size-fits-all answer to whether to open a joint bank account, and what works for your friends might not work for you. Whatever your decision, it's important to respect each other and find common ground you both agree on. For example, if your partner doesn't want to share a joint bank account, you might come to some other solution, like splitting living expenses evenly.

The financial setup you choose will depend on your specific needs and preferences around your relationship. For example, getting married comes with some legal protections around finances—for instance, your spouse can't legally take all the combined savings if the relationship doesn't work out. You might not have the same legal protections if you're unmarried and have a joint account with a partner, so you may just need to take some extra steps to keep yourself and your partner protected. Keeping separate accounts for your savings and a joint account for shared expenses is one possible solution.

Understanding the pros and cons

There are different benefits and disadvantages for opening a joint bank account. Sharing one account might make it easier to budget, pay bills and track spending. This may help you avoid a mine versus yours mentality, which some couples find restricting. Working together to manage one account is a great opportunity to plan your financial future together. Additionally, keeping your money together in one account may help negate any bank fees for account balance minimums.

On the other hand, some couples prefer the financial freedom of separate accounts. You may also find merging accounts creates tension over how money is saved and spent. There's always the possibility that one partner might overspend and make it harder to grow your joint savings. And of course, it's tough to surprise your partner with gifts if you share a bank account where they can see purchases on your statement.

One option that can allow you to benefit from both scenarios is to have a joint account for combined living expenses, such as mortgage or rent, utilities and car payments. You and your partner could also keep separate bank accounts for personal expenses and gift buying. This solution lets you cover the essential bills together each month while still giving each person flexibility and independence with their discretionary spending.

When to ask for help

You don't need to tackle finances on your own. A certified financial advisor can help you measure the current health of your finances, such as calculating if have enough saved for your cross-country vacation or if you're contributing enough to your retirement fund. It can be easier to set goals together as a couple when you see the complete financial picture.

Discussing finances with your partner is well worth the effort to ensure you're both on the same page about money goals. A joint bank account might be an integral part of this effort, depending on your situation. Whether you and your partner choose a joint account or not, it's important to have honest financial discussions often. 

Consider scheduling regular times to discuss matters like debt, expenses and financial goals. These conversations can take any form you and your partner want them to. The only real rule is to respect each other's perspective and be willing to listen.

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This information is provided for educational purposes only and should not be relied on or interpreted as accounting, financial planning, investment, legal or tax advice. First Citizens Bank (or its affiliates) neither endorses nor guarantees this information, and encourages you to consult a professional for advice applicable to your specific situation.